Monday, November 29, 2010
Waiting For Evernham To Get Back In The Game
It's no secret that Ray Evernham has been itching to get back in the NASCAR game. Confined to ESPN's Infield Pit Studio as the third wheel behind Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty, Evernham is limited to a sentence or two in his TV comments.
On select Mondays, Evernham is put in the tight "Bestwick box" of NASCAR Now. "Agree or disagree" is a favorite term of host Allen Bestwick as he holds a tight leash on his panelists. When the show is over, Evernham records segments used during the week where he points at car parts a la the legendary Tim Brewer. Something's got to give.
Sunday morning Evernham dropped the following message on Twitter: "Firming up 2011 plans and will make a formal announcement when it all comes together. Will make sure to tweet before announcement is made."
Before the Homestead race, Evernham confirmed that he has not signed with ESPN for 2011 and is weighing his options. Ruled out is working as a crew chief, traveling the entire Sprint Cup Series circuit or taking on a full time role in senior management for a NASCAR team or manufacturer.
So, where might Evernham go? SPEED is in a transition right now, but that network only televises the Camping World Truck Series and two non-points events on the Sprint Cup Series side. The Monday through Thursday NASCAR Race Hub show mixes interviews, field reports and highlights. FOX and TNT are set in their on-air line-ups. The TV options appear slim.
All of this Evernham conversation began after he announced that he was suddenly free from his legal entanglements with what is now called Richard Petty Motorsports. Even Rick Hendrick chimed in. "Ray and I are very close,” Hendrick told scenedaily.com's Bob Pockrass. “He’s a very smart guy, and we had talked over the last year about things that I’m doing that he likes. So there’s just an array of things that we do in our companies that Ray has been in and around for years, so I’m sure that Ray and I will be doing something together, and hopefully it will be fun.”
Many fans believe that part of the "fun" Hendrick refers to is getting the struggling dynasty that is Dale Earnhardt Jr. back on the right track. With yet another crew chief gone, Junior continues to be an enigma where many fans are concerned. Talented, yet troubled and perhaps more in need of a father figure who speaks his language than another high-tech crew chief chasing the COT dynamic.
The NASCAR on ESPN management has been mum on the issue. Perhaps, still in shock from the TV debacle that was the Homestead coverage. Evernham worked well on TV and when paired with Ricky Craven provided a wonderful discussion of NASCAR topics and issues in the news. Evernham's absence on TV would be a loss for fans.
So, we wait for news that should prove to be interesting. Will ESPN stick with Evernham if he works at HMS? Will Junior prove to be a part of the equation? Perhaps, a wild card like SPEED might step into the mix and offer Evernham his own TV project? The answers should be coming our way shortly.
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